'Rajinikanth has fans in every political party. They will not change their mind because the BJP prints posters of him with Modi.' A Ganesh Nadar reports from Trichy.
On Thursday, Narendra Modi will address his first rally in the South after being anointed his party's prime ministerial candidate, in the Tamil Nadu city of Trichy.
In Tamil Nadu, the chief minister is a former movie heroine; the Leader of the Opposition still works in the movies; the former chief minister wrote movie scripts and dialogues when he was younger. So it is only natural that Narendra Modi deployed tinsel to make some headway in the political clutter.
And who better than the reigning supernova of Tamil -- nay Indian -- cinema? Mr Rajinikanth.
The walls in Trichy are plastered with posters of Modi with Rajinikanth, who is expected to be present at the Bharatiya Janata Party rally in the city on Thursday.
"The minute you see Rajinikanth," a clerk at a hotel told this reporter, "people have to say something. Either they will say the BJP is desperate or they will smile and say 'Anything for a vote!'"
"People who may not even look at Narendra Modi will certainly look," he added. "Rajinikanth attracts everyone."
Will non-committed voters opt for Modi and the BJP with such an association, this reporter asked an autorickshaw driver. "Rajinikanth has fans in every political party," he replied. "They will not change their mind because the BJP prints posters of him with Modi."
"The Rajinikanth fans associations have always been politically active," pointed out Suresh, who drives a taxi. "In every election if they like any candidate, they have put up posters endorsing that politician. They have used their fan clubs to ask for votes."
In the 1996 assembly election, the Rajnikanth fan clubs worked for the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham-Tamil Maanila Congress alliance which won a huge victory.
Rajinikanth had then come out openly against All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham leader Jayalalithaa, then as now the state's chief minister. This election season, he has not said anything so far.
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar